Nature’s structures are often tubular. Their joints (e.g. the knees of a human body, the nodes of trees and plants) are intrinsically optimized to maximize stiffness, resistance, and robustness. The 3D metal printing technology can enable a custom optimization of steel tubular joints, saving material waste and decreasing fabrication costs, since it is free from the constraints of traditional manufacturing.
In cooperation with multiple players (architects, manufacturers, producers), we have been studying new tubular joint shapes using solid isotropic material with the penalization method (SIMP) to maximize the structural performance and minimize fabrication complexity to reduce costs, increase customization and cut waste as well as the carbon footprint of the sector.
You can read more about it here:
, Nature-inspired optimization of tubular joints for metal 3D printing, Struct Multidisc Optim (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00158-020-02729-7, Springer Nature
Here we presented a ‘hybrid’ manufacturing approach by welding optimized printed nodes to conventional steel elements, and our numerical modeling approach for its structural integrity study:
Chierici, M, Berto, F, Kanyilmaz, A. Resource‐efficient joint fabrication by welding metal 3D‐printed parts to conventional steel: A structural integrity study. Fatigue Fract Eng Mater Struct. 2021; 1– 21. https://doi.org/10.1111/ffe.13428